9 Army Scout choppers heading to Alaska early
The transfer is part of a reorganization of aviation brigades
The Army plans to spend $10 million this summer to transfer nine OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters and 130 aviators and air crew personnel from Wheeler Army Airfield to Alaska two years earlier than scheduled.
OH-58 Kiowa Warrior
Max gross weight:5,500 pounds (armed)
Height: 12 feet, 10.6 inches
Width: 6 feet, 5.4 inches
Length: 33 feet, 4 inches
Max cruise speed: 128 mph
Range: 299 miles (sea level, no weapons, 10% reserve)
Ceiling: 19,000 feet
Armament: Air-to-air Stinger missiles; .50-caliber machine gun; Hydra 70 rockets; Hellfire missiles
Source: U.S. Army
The change means the relocation of nine OH-58 Kiowa helicopters and 120 aviators and crew members belonging to the 25th Infantry Division's 6th Squadron (Attack), 17th Cavalry Regiment.
Christopher Rodney, a Fort Shafter spokesman, said the helicopters and soldiers from the 25th Division will be augmented with 21 Kiowa helicopters and personnel from other mainland posts, bringing its strength to 380 soldiers, and will be located at Fort Wainwright in Alaska. It is expected to be fully operational by October 2007.
The Kiowa helicopter has a crew of two whose mission is to provide reconnaissance for infantry soldiers.
Rodney said the departure of the nine Kiowa helicopters and 130 soldiers from Schofield Barracks to Alaska will not affect the Army's current plans to send 7,000 25th Division soldiers to Iraq this summer.
"They were never part of the deployment plans," Rodney said.
In October the Pentagon announced that there would be 11 combat aviation brigades, 10 of which be affiliated with divisions.
Under the Army's long-range plans involving its 43 brigade combat teams and 10 division headquarters, the 25th Division will have four brigade combat teams -- two Stryker, one airborne and one infantry -- as well as a combat aviation brigade and a division headquarters.
This means at Schofield Barracks there will be the Stryker 2nd Brigade Combat Team, an infantry 3rd Brigade Combat Team; and a Combat Aviation Brigade.
At Fort Richardson in Alaska, a parachute and airborne unit -- 4th Brigade Combat Team -- was activated on July 16.
Rodney said the transfer of Schofield Barracks's Kiowa squadron to Fort Wainwright is to support the Alaska airborne and Stryker brigade combat teams.
Under the Army's initial transformation plans, the 6th Squadron was supposed to move to Alaska in 2008.
But Lt. Gen. John Brown III, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, wanted to transfer the Schofield Barracks unit this summer, Rodney added, to ensure that "there are sufficient aviation assets in both Hawaii and Alaska to train two brigade combat teams in each location."
Rodney said making the move this summer means the Army will save money, since soldiers and equipment will not have to be moved to Schofield Barracks and then to Alaska.
Rodney said some of the soldiers transferred to Alaska will have to live off post until housing construction projects are completed in September.
The 25th Infantry Division's 6th Squadron (Attack), 17th Cavalry Regiment was first activated in 1916 at Fort Bliss in Texas and distinguished itself during the Vietnam War when it was known as Troop F, 17th Cavalry.
It was the last helicopter unit to leave Vietnam in March 31, 1972, and inactivated. On Nov. 16, Troop F was reorganized and activated as the 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, and assigned to the 25th Division's Combat Aviation Brigade as an OH-58 attack helicopter squadron. Lt. Col. Robert Brown currently commands the 6th Squadron.